We are pleased that a major news agency has taken up an important question. Reuters asks: “Is Thailand’s police chief Somyot Poompan-moung [Somyos Pumpanmuang] a graft-buster or hatchet man?”
The answer is clear, as we have stated several times. He’s a hatchet man and propagandist for the military dictatorship.
Reuters says that “critics say he is in the pocket of the ruling junta…”. This is obvious and easily demonstrated.
Somyos is charged by his boss General Prayuth Chan-ocha to be “a hatchet man for a junta trying to tame the police” – seen by the junta and anti-democrats as pro-Thaksin Shinawatra. He is meant to clean out the pro-Thaksin brass out of the police force.
The article quotes Somyos as saying: “Political parties interfere with the police, and some police officers have served politicians in the hope of progressing…”. His statement has two understandings embedded in it. First, that Thaksin gained support in the police. There is no doubt that this is correct.
The second understanding is far more problematic. This is the idea that only politicians “interfere” in the police. The police and military have not always been on the same political side, and military dictatorships have long sought to control the police and the palace has worked hard to promote its favorites in the police force. Both the military and palace have created and controlled significant police units.
The major PR problem for the police force is not its political affiliations, but its rampant corruption. While the military and various bureaucratic offices are riddled by corruption, the brass in the police are at the top of a vast pyramid that sucks money from citizens and siphons it to the police bosses. As such, it is a vast criminal enterprise.
So it is that when the puppet National Legislative Assembly was constructed, the military and police members were required to declare their assets. Those declarations showed that the police led the league tables of the obviously but unquestioned unusually rich. The average wealth of the top brass in the police is a whopping 258 million baht.
Somyos has amassed declared assets of almost 375 million baht. We have previously noted this cop’s connections with shady business groups that use men-in-black to harass villagers.
Reuters quotes “analysts” who “say Somyot’s focus is to do the bidding of an army that craves control of the police and, by extension, the Shinawatras – a family whose pro-poor policies won them every Thai election since 2001, along with the hatred of many of the Bangkok elite.”
Paul Chambers, director of research at the Institute of Southeast Asian Affairs in Chiang Mai, is listed as one of these analysts, who says Somyos will seek to “redesign the police in a way that will long make it into a mechanism of the military…”.